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Behav Processes. 2018 Oct;155:2-7. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2017.05.015. Epub 2017 May 26.

Tuberculosis detection by pouched rats: Opportunities for reinforcement under low-prevalence conditions.

Author information

1
University of Waikato, School of Psychology, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand. Electronic address: tim.edwards@waikato.ac.nz.
2
University of Waikato, School of Psychology, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand; Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling (APOPO), PO Box 3078, Morogoro, Tanzania.
3
Western Michigan University, Department of Psychology, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA; Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling (APOPO), PO Box 3078, Morogoro, Tanzania.
4
Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling (APOPO), PO Box 3078, Morogoro, Tanzania; Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development, Trinity Building C, PO Box 2270, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
5
Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling (APOPO), PO Box 3078, Morogoro, Tanzania; Sokoine University of Agriculture, Pest Management Centre, PO Box 3110, Morogoro, Tanzania.
6
Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling (APOPO), PO Box 3078, Morogoro, Tanzania.

Abstract

Giant African pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) have been employed successfully in two operational tuberculosis-detection projects in which they sniff sputum samples from symptomatic individuals who have visited tuberculosis clinics. The prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis in this population is high, approximately 20% in the regions where the rats have been used. If the rats are to be used to screen individuals from lower-prevalence populations, their performance under such conditions must first be evaluated. In this study, the prevalence of tuberculosis-positive samples presented to eight pouched rats was reduced to approximately 5%, and the percentage of known-positive samples included as opportunities for reinforcement was varied in sequence from 10 to 8, 6, 4, 2, 4, and 2. Liquid food reinforcers were delivered for identification responses to known-positive samples and at no other time. The rats' accuracy was clinically and statistically significantly lower at 2% than at the other values. These results indicate that the rats can perform well in low-prevalence scenarios but, if they are used under the conditions of the present study, at least 4% of the samples presented to them must be opportunities for reinforcement.

KEYWORDS:

Concept formation; Cricetomys ansorgei; Diagnostic; Discrimination learning; Pulmonary tuberculosis; Scent detection; Techniques and procedures

PMID:
28554740
DOI:
10.1016/j.beproc.2017.05.015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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